Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Vargas-Straube M.J., Beard S., Norambuena R., Paradela A., Vera M., Jerez C.A. (2020)

High copper concentration reduces biofilm formation in Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans by decreasing production of extracellular polymeric substances and its adherence to elemental sulfur

Revista : Journal of Proteomics
Volumen : 225
Páginas : 103874
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is an acidophilic bacterium able to grow in environments with high concentrations of metals. It is a chemolithoautotroph able to form biofilms on the surface of solid minerals to obtain its energy. The response of both planktonic and sessile cells of A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 grown in elemental sulfur and adapted to high copper concentration was analyzed by quantitative proteomics. It was found that 137 proteins varied their abundance when comparing both lifestyles. Copper effllux proteins, some subunits of the ATP synthase complex, porins, and proteins involved in cell wall modification increased their abundance in copper-adapted sessile lifestyle cells. On the other hand, planktonic copper-adapted cells showed increased levels of proteins such as: cupreredoxins involved in copper cell sequestration, some proteins related to sulfur metabolism, those involved in biosynthesis and transport of lipopolysaccharides, and in assembly of type IV pili. During copper adaptation a decreased formation of biofilms was measured as determined by epifluorescence microscopy. This was apparently due not only to a diminished number of sessile cells but also to their exopolysaccharides production. This is the first study showing that copper, a prevalent metal in biomining environments causes dispersion of A. ferrooxidans biofilms. SIGNIFICANCE: Copper is a metal frequently found in high concentrations at mining environments inhabitated by acidophilic microorganisms. Copper resistance determinants of A. ferrooxidans have been previously studied in planktonic cells. Although biofilms are recurrent in these types of environments, the effect of copper on their formation has not been studied so far. The results obtained indicate that high concentrations of copper reduce the capacity of A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 to form biofilms on sulfur. These findings may be relevant to consider for a bacterium widely used in copper bioleaching processes.